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Crested aloft, and carbuncle his eyes;
With burnished neck of verdant gold, erect
Amidst the circling spires, that on the grass
Floated redundant; pleasing was his shape
And lovely; never since of serpent kind

“ Of bis tortuous train
Curl'd many a wanton wreath in sight of Eve,
To lure her eye;
He bolder now, uncalled before her stood
But as in gaze admiring: oft he bow'd
His turret crest, and sleek enamelled neck,

Fawning; and licked the ground whereon she trod.”— Book IX. This picture has shed its influence into some of the most homely and precious comments on the word of God." The devil,” says Matthew Henry, "chose to act his part in a serpent, because it is a specious creature, has a spotted, dappled skin, and then went erect.” He piously and very truly adds; “ Many a dangerous temptation comes to us in

gay, fine colors, but they are but skin deep."

There are, no doubt, many difficulties in this narrative, which it would be iinpossible to get any light on, were we to limit our attention to the words of Genesis. They must, however, be looked at in the light of other portions of the word of God. To this we now turn, and in doing so, would plead for the true historical character of the third chapter of Genesis. It is not a symbolic representation; it is not a poem; but a true history of some of the most moinentous facts that the world has ever seen. The references to this chapter both by our Lord and bis apostles show this. If there be matters in it which suggest relations between mind and matter, between the spiritual world and the material, which we cannot fully explain, let us not hide our ignorance behind fanciful attempts to solve all difficulties, because it is not in the word only but even in connection with some most familiar natural objects, that we find much which forces us to say, “ We do not know.”

The first question is: Was the serpent a true serpent? The answer to this is given in the narrative. It is men

tioned as one of the “beasts of the field which the Lord God had made;" and when the curse was uttered against it, it was in the words : “ Thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field.” It is impossible to explain away the natural meaning of these words by alleging that " this serpent was no common beast, no ordinary serpent." Neither does it strengthen our trust in the narrative to be assured that the whole transaction is designed to bring before us Satan only. There are expressions here which forbid such a construction. It has been urged that the presence of the Hebrew article before the original word points to a difference between this and all other serpents. But a little familiarity with the scripture use of the term would have shown how groundless this allegation is. In Numbers xxi. 9, Ecclesiastes x. 11, and Amos v. 19, the same form is used; and in these passages there can be no doubt a common serpent is referred to. In the last it is associated with the lion and the bear: “If a man did flee from a lion and a bear met him; or went into the house, and leaned his head on the wall, and a serpent bit bim." The passage in Genesis introduces us both to the true reptile, and to Satan, the head of sin. This combination bas been too much overlooked. Yet it is in it alone we can find the key to two classes of scripture texts. The language of the Bible is peculiarly exact in all references to the creature so intimately associated with the temptation. Others of the same family are referred to, but under different names. This should lead us to look for several species. The word in this passage is nūlūsh, and corresponds to the Greek term ophis, from which, in natural science, the great order of true serpents is named Ophidia. Following the scriptural use of the word, we next find it in Gen. xlix. 17, “Dan shall be a serpent (nāhūsh) by the way," he shall be -ubtle, cunning, crafty; "an adder (shephiphin) in the path”

the cerastes, noted for its venom be shall be hurtful to others. - And the Lord said unto him, what is that in thy band ? And he said a rod. And he said cast it on the

ground; and it became a serpent (nīkush)," an object of terror, for “ Moses fled from before it" (Exod. iv. 2, 3). “And the Lord sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and much people of Israel died. Therefore the people came to Moses, and said, We have sinned, for we have spoken against the Lord, and against thee: pray unto the Lord, that be take away the serpents from us. And Moses prayed for the people. And the Lord said unto Moses, Make thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole; and it shall come to pass that every one that is bitten, when he looketh upon it shall live. And Moses made a serpent of brass, and put it upon a pole; and it came to pass, that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he beheld the serpent of brass, he lived” (Numb. xxi. 6-9). Here the same word is used throughout, except in vs. 8, where we have one introduced to express the bright or fiery appearance (sūrāph). “Who led thee through that great and terrible wilderness, wherein were fiery serpents and scorpions, and drought; where there was no water” (Deut. viii. 15). “ Their poison is like the poison of a serpent (nūhāsh), they are like the deaf adder (pethon), that stoppeth her ear” (Ps.

“ Look not on the wine when it is red, when it gireth his color in the cup, when it moveth itself aright. At the last it biteth like a serpent (nūhūsh), and stingeth like an adder (iziphono)” (Prov. xxiii. 32). It is suggestive that this same term is used for the constellation to which Job refers, when he says: “By his spirit he hath garnished the heavens; his hand hath formed Nabash, the crooked serpent” (Job xxvi. 13), an expression to be kept in mind in connection with the worship of the serpent, to which reference will be made. The use of the New Testament equivalents for these words shows the same exactness and discrimination. “ Ye serpents (ophis); ye generation of vipers (echidna)(Matt. xxiii. 33). “ As Moses lifted up the serpent (ophis) in the wilderness" (John iii. 14). “ For their power is in their mouth and in their tails; for their tails were like unto serpents (ophis)(Rev. ix. 19). “And he Vol. XXI. No. 61.


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laid hold on the dragon (drakon), that old serpent (ophis) which is the devil and satan” (Rev. xx. 2). Other expressions are used in the Old Testament for serpents as zohel : “ I will also send teeth of beasts upon them, with the poison of serpents of the dust” (Deut. xxxii. 24); acksīb (adder or asp): “ They have sharpened their tongues like a serpent; adder's poison is under their lips” (Ps. cxl. 3); epheh (viper) : “ He shall suck the poison of asps; the viper's tongue shall slay him” (Job xx. 16).

All this shows that the writers of scripture had well-defined views of the nature of the reptiles, on the one hand, and of their fitness to shadow forth certain moral qualities, on the other.

But the serpent associated with the Fall is represented as speaking to the woman. This is the difficulty. Yet here the thoughtful reader may meet with the solution: Thought is above matter, and can act upon it; the spiritual world is above the world of mere aniinal nature. There is not, horever, the slightest intimation in the whole word of God that the one is isolated from the other; that there is no interaction between the two, that the spiritual may not act upon and through the brute nature, for purposes of good or evil. If this is countenanced by the word of God, then much of the mystery which has hung around the mention of the serpent in this passage is cleared up. What is claimed, is not care over or the use of the lower animals in connection with moral ends, but a nearer approach to it than this— the approach to it in absolute sovereignty on the part of the Creator, in order to display or bring into power that which is in the bighest sense spiritual; and the approach to it permissively, of him who was “a liar and murderer from the beginning," in order to the accomplishment of his own designs. Leaving the temptation out of view for a little, let us look at God's use of the beasts. The whole subject is deeply interesting. “And Balaam rose up in the morning, and saddled his ass, and went with the princes of Moab. And God's anger was kindled because he went: and the angel of the Lord stood in the way


for an adversary against him. (Now he was riding upon his ass, and his two servants were with him.) And the ass saw the angel of the Lord standing in the way, and his sword drawn in his hand: and the ass turned aside out of the way, and went into the field; and Balaam smote the ass to turn her into the way. But the angel of the Lord stood in a path of the vineyards, a wall being on this side, and a wall on that side. And when the ass saw the angel of the Lord, she thrust herself unto the wall, and crushed Balaain's foot against the wall; and he smote her again. And the angel of the Lord went further, and stood in a narrow place, where was no way to turn either to the right hand or to the left. And when the ass saw the angel of the Lord, she fell down under Balaam : and Balaam's anger was kindled, and he smote the ass with a staff. And the Lord opened the mouth of the ass; and she said unto Balaam, What have I done unto thee, that thou hast sinitten me these three times? And Balaam said unto the ass, Because thou hast mocked me: I would there were a sword in mine hand, for now would I kill thee. And the ass said unto Balaam, Am not I thine ass, upon which thou hast ridden ever since I was thine unto this day? Was I ever wont to do so unto thee? And he said, Nay” (Num. xxii. 21 - 30). The ready answer to all this, on the part of those who wish to banish everything like miracle from the scriptures, and who are ever anxious to make, as it were, an apology for the “ seemingly miraculous,” would no doubt be, “the false prophet's mind was so much excited that he imagined all this.” But we are not allowed to entertain such a thought. Tbe direct reference to the transaction, in the New Testament, is decisive as to its being real: “ Which have forsaken the right way, and are gone astray, following the way of Balaam the son of Bosor, who loved the wages of uprighteousness; but was rebuked for his iniquity, the dumb ass speaking, forbad the madness of the prophet” (2 Pet. ii. 15, 16). The influence of the same power is seen in the case of Jonah : “ Now the Lord had prepared a great fish to

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